Just one day before Republican candidate John Kasich was scheduled to hold a town hall rally in Park Slope, the Ohio governor moved the event to Bay Ridge.
On Thursday, April 7, Kasich was joined by veteran and television personality Montel Williams, Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis and many enthusiastic supporters at the Bay Ridge Manor, 476 76th Street.
According to Malliotakis, Kasich was the first presidential candidate to visit the Bay Ridge community since President Gerald Ford in the 1970s.
The governor spoke for nearly an hour about an array of topics before fielding questions from the audience.
Among one of the key messages for the hopeful Republican nominee was the unfair treatment of the country’s veterans.
“I think about when friends of mine told me that they would come home from Vietnam and they’d have to change their uniform in the bathroom because people spat at them. It was unbelievable,” he said.
After recalling stories of mistreated vets, Kasich offered solutions to reward them when they arrived back home. “We need to align them with an available job. It has to be systematic. Right now when you’re a veteran, you go to these job fairs. That’s not the best way to do it.
“The best way is to take somebody who is coming home and make a direct connection between that veteran and a job opening that exists in the state and give them the training they [need] to be able to get a job,” he continued. “The problem is the bureaucracy doesn’t deliver all that.”
Despite being a distant third in the Republican primary to delegates Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz, Kasich reiterated that he intends to remain in the race.
“We’re going to go to a convention,” he said, adding that he has his sights set on the November election. “We’re not doing this to win the nomination and lose the general. We are doing this to win the White House. I win in virtually every poll [against Democratic candidates] and they don’t.”
Kasich prides himself on not running a negative campaign, unlike his opponents.
“I had someone come to me and say if I would just attack more, I’d get more publicity,” he said. “I love the town halls because you notice that [they aren’t] going that well for some of these guys. They’re being forced to answer questions. I love them because it gives you a chance to see who I am.”
During the evening, the candidate did just that, telling stories of his time growing up in Mckees Rocks, Pennsylvania and his track record with the economy as a congressmember and governor.
“All my career, I have been a reformer. I have spent ten years of my life trying to get the budget balanced,” he said. “After ten years, we got the budget balanced and the economy was growing like crazy and the wages were growing and there wasn’t an issue of income inequality and I stepped on a lot of toes in the process.”
He also discussed how he would bring those practices into the White House. “In my mind’s eye, I think about the people in Mckees Rocks,” he explained, “because the wealthy and powerful, we don’t have to worry about them. What we have to do in this country is remember that we have to look at problems and solve them.”
Before the Ohio Governor took the stage, Williams elaborated on why he thought Kaisch would make an exceptional leader.
“The vision I see him having for America is one that is inclusive,” he said. “It’s one that is tolerant. It’s one that is equal for all of us and it’s not something that are words out of his mouth. It’s demonstrated in his actions.”
In a strange moment, as Williams was about to address the crowd, a shouting match broke out between two male members in the audience, with one accusing the other of being a Democrat and spreading false rumors about his family. After refusing to sit down and remain quiet, the two were escorted out of the venue by security. It is unclear if the dispute was staged.